Idaho Republicans Take Brave Stand Against 'Woke' Tampons In Schools
Period poverty is a serious issue throughout the United States, especially for tweens and teenagers in school. According to the 2021 State of the Period study conducted by Thinx and PERIOD, a non-profit dealing with period poverty and menstrual stigma, 23 percent of menstruating students have struggled to afford period products. Twenty-five percent have missed class time because they could not afford menstrual products. It's a pretty serious problem and one that needs to be addressed if we are to have any equity in education.
This week, the Idaho legislature voted down House Bill 313 a bill that would have provided tampons, pads and other menstrual products free of charge to students who need them — and kept them stocked in the restrooms, allowing them to avoid those awkward trips to the nurse's office. The final tally was a tie, 35 for and 35 against, but that still meant it didn't pass. 10 of those votes came from Republican women concerned about how "liberal" and "woke" the bill was.
Oddly enough, the bill was actually co-sponsored by a Republican — a male Republican at that — who proposed it after being approached about the issue of period poverty by one of his constituents, Avrey Hendrix, a 35-year-old mother of four and the founder of Idaho Period Project. A friend of a friend of Furniss's daughter happened to be on the board of the non-profit, so they gave it a shot and he was on board with it.
To his credit, Rep. Rod Furniss (R-Rigby) got up in front of his fellow legislators and gave a fairly impassioned and logical speech explaining why it is only fair to provide free menstrual products at schools.
“Boys and girls have two Ps: peeing and pooping,” Rep. Furniss said. “We know that the proper role of government is to cover the two Ps. Well, surprise, we just figured out [in] 2023, that girls have three Ps: They have peeing and pooping, and period.”
"Now we can hold the first two Ps, peeing and pooping," he continued. "We can take care of that. But the third P, the girls don’t have a muscle down there. When that happens, it happens. It’s an emergency every time that happens. It’s a basic biological function. Is the proper role of government to cover a basic biological function? I submit to you that it is."
Good for him!
Idaho state representatives debate House Bill 313 which would have funded free menstrual product dispensers in public school girls bathrooms for sixth through 12th grade students. The bill died in the House on March 20, 2023, falling one vote short of a necessary majority. Thirty-five Republicans opposed it. #news #idaho #menstrualtok
I have to say, I would not look at that guy, knowing he is a Republican and say "This is a man who is going to stand up and talk about menstruation and period products, or even ever say the word 'period.'" I give credit where it is due.
“The P-word that's in my head right now is patronized. As a woman, we’re capable of handling these things,” responded Rep. Julianne Young. “We look out for each other. I think it’s a stretch to say that we have to provide these products in order for women to be educated.”
Do we really? In middle school? I'm sure things have gotten better in recent years, what with the crackdowns on bullying, but she has to know that there are girls who definitely don't have anyone to ask for a tampon. There are certainly girls who don't want to tell anyone that they can't afford tampons or pads, who know they'd never hear the end of it if they did. This is why, actually, patronizing is just fine in this case. No one should have a problem being a tampon patron to kids in need.
“There’s another P-word, and that P-word is parents," Young went on, "And if the schools get between the daughter and the parents, then there may be some important conversations that don’t take place.”
What? I'm sorry, but how would that even work? How is this getting between parents and their children? Parents aren't going to talk about menstruation with their kids because the school has free Tampax? Why would that be? Does Rep. Young think we should just let kids bleed all over the damn place in order to save a special conversation for their parents? And are those whose parents don't tell them about menstruation not entitled to know what is happening to them?
I have many questions.
Another female Republican suggested the bill was "embarrassing" due to the subject matter and worried that could be a gateway bill to providing free deodorant in schools.
Via Daily Beast:
“This bill is a very liberal policy, and it’s really turning Idaho into a bigger nanny state than ever,” Rep. Heather Scott said. “It’s embarrassing not only because of the topic but because of the actual policy itself. So you don’t have to be a woman to understand the absurdity of this policy. And you don’t have to feel that you’re insensitive to not address this.”
Scott then took a classic far-right turn.
“What’s gonna be next?” Scott asked. “Because, we have what? Toilet paper. We have paper towels. And the good gentleman says, ‘Well, they can’t help it, the women can’t help having their periods.’”
Scott then proceeded into absurdity disguised as logic.
“Well, what about sweat?” she asked. “We can’t help but sweat. So are the schools now going to be providing deodorant for these kids?”
That, actually, would be absolutely fine. I think that would be fantastic. We all remember that there were kids who went to school smelling badly, whose parents, for whatever reason, did not provide them with deodorant. We know they got made fun of, or at least talked about behind their backs. It would be absolutely lovely of schools to help kids out in that way.
Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt was particularly upset about some of the terms people supporting the bill had used, specifically “menstrual equity” and “period poverty.”
"These are woke terms," she said.
That is, in fact, an entirely accurate assessment. They are woke terms. They involve being aware of the fact that there are a lot of people out there who cannot afford menstrual products. Rep. Ehardt and the other nine Republican women who voted against this bill are actively choosing to put on their horse blinders, yell "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" at the top of their youngs and pretend that this is not our reality.
It is an admittedly unpleasant reality that almost one-in-four U.S. students say they struggle to afford menstrual products. It's an unpleasant reality that there are girls who have to miss school or go home early in gym shorts from the nurse's office because they don't have access to these products. It would probably be very easy for these women to go their entire lives without knowing about this, or being able to at least believe that this is something people are making up in order to make them feel bad, but they've chosen a profession that requires them to occasionally be aware of their surroundings and them's the breaks.
Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.
Wonkette is independent and fully funded by readers like you. Click below to tip us!
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse